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A postmortem of IndieGameStand's number one rated video game!

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Redactem - An Indie Game Postmortem

On July 8th 2016 Redactem became the number one rated video game on IndieGameStand, less than a month later it launched onto Steam. There are multiple things which I look back on and wish I had done differently so in this article I'll talk about what we did right, what we did wrong and how you can replicate our moderate success.

Looking back on Redactem, there are a lot of things I don't like about it's design, level structure, and audio however as it was my first commercial game I am still immensely proud of how I managed to successfully pull it off.

Conception

Ever since finishing college I had been capable of programming basic games, but it wasn't till I watched a documentary about game development that I started considering developing a commercial game. I was sitting in my small Taiwanese apartment when I first started testing out what I could do. Since I loved the game Super Meat Boy I wanted to see if I had the skills to make something similar, so in about 24 hours I made a basic clone of the game. I had finished the clone quite quickly so I started adding features from other games such as rewinding time from Braid and then changing gravity from VVVV (at the time I had never heard of VVVV, I just liked the mechanic). There were features from other games too, but I later removed them to keep the game simple and easy to learn. I wanted it to be different to Super Meat Boy so instead of making it purely about parkour I instead chose puzzles to be the main focus of the game and in doing so created a new sub genre I like to call parkour-puzzle-platformer.

Graphics

Very early on in development I found a part time pixel artist on a Facebook group for foreigners in Taiwan and we quickly came to a revenue split deal. His graphics were good, but in my opinion the game's design was holding his art back and my insistence that the style be simple ended up making the game visually boring. If I were to go back in time this would one of the three major things I would have done differently as when someone sees screenshots of a game they need to be exciting enough to encourage them to watch the trailer or read the game's description.

Marketing

Despite Redactem selling well for my first game, when compared to it's high review scores it had a relatively low amount of sales. I believe this is due to it's extremely poor marketing. When working on the game I knew nothing about advertising and marketing (something which has since changed), in fact up until the game was more or less finished I did absolutely no marketing, I didn't even have a press kit. The only kind of advertising I did was after the game released, I sent keys to reviewers and did some small giveaways on IndieDB but that was more or less it. The lack of marketing, along with the bland graphics are important factors in why Redactem wasn't as successful as it could have been. For my next game I have devised a complete marketing plan, I'll probably be spending more time advertising than programming. You can never spend too much time marketing, read my article about it here.

Price

I originally sold the game for around $4.00 USD, in my eyes that was a decent price for a good few hours of gameplay but apparently not. The biggest complaint, and the reason our user reviews are lower than our critic reviews is because of price, gamers expect tens of hours of gameplay for just a few dollars and because of the amount of indie games that are being released every day, if your game is short and isn't extremely cheap your potential customers will go elsewhere. This is the third thing I would have done differently, and earlier this month I did rectify this problem by slashing the game's price by four. Since then daily sales have increased exponentially.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the three things I should have done to get more sales were:

  1. Made the art style less bland
  2. Done marketing prior to release
  3. Reduced the initial price

If I had have done these three things Redactem would easily have more than 80,000 owners on Steam now.

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